Williams Wins Open, Helping Staples Place 8th

March 21, 2015 by ·  


NEW HAVEN — Daniel Williams of Staples won the 500-yard freestyle at the State Open Swimming Championships on Saturday at Yale’s Kiphuth Pool.

Led by Williams, the Wreckers placed highest among area schools with 225.5 points.

“It’s awesome,” Staples head coach Frisk Driscoll said of the win by Williams. “For three years Daniel was in the shadow of Jonathon Blansfield. There was nothing more fitting than his last 50 charge, which was just as fast as his opening 50.”

The Norwalk/McMahon co-op was 13th (157), Wilton took 26th and Weston tied for 39th (22). Greenwich won the competition (658).

“My guys all performed well,” said Norwalk/McMahon head coach Chris Passamano of his team, which had its highest place in the State Open in 13 years and marked only the fourth time in 25 years the program finished in the top 15. “We wanted to be top 15 and we ended up 13th. We accomplished every goal we set out to accomplish this season so I’m happy and I’m proud of this team.”

Williams was clocked at 4:35.61, which was three seconds faster than his seed time (4:38.81). Anthony Dell’Isola of Norwalk/McMahon finished sixth in the event (4:45.57).
With the victory, Williams becomes Staples’ first State Open champion since Blansfield in the 500 two years ago and the Wreckers have now scored top 10 finishes in the Open for three straight years.

Williams also took seventh in the 200 IM (1:55.58) and helped the 400 free relay, along with Maximilian Wimer, Harrison Knapp and North Woods, place eighth (3:16.82) and the 200 medley relay, with Ethan Hunter, Mark Schachter and Woods, place ninth (1:40.54).

Along with anchoring those two relays, Woods also placed fifth in the 100 breaststroke (59.59) and was 14th in the 100 free (48.62).
“There’s no one else I’d rather have at the end of a race,” Driscoll said of Woods.

Wimer ended up 12th in the 200 free (1:46.65) by dropping over a second from his seed time, which Driscoll said was key in getting his team off to a good start.
Dell’Isola also was fourth in the 200 free (1:44.28).

Also for Norwalk/McMahon, Eddie Donovan placed sixth in the 200 IM with a school-record time of 1:54.87 and was fifth in 100 butterfly (51.10).

Another highlight for the co-op, according to head coach Chris Passamano, was the performance of the 400 free relay team, made up of Donovan, Kyle Lumsden, Joey Sepuca and Dell’Isola, which finished 13th (3:18.47).

Norwalk/McMahon’s 200 medley relay of Nico Roldan, Dell’Isola, Donovan and Sepuca was 10th (1:40.70).

Wilton’s 200 free relay team of Ryan Robb, Jack Lewis, Derek Benison and Will Suchy placed 12th (1:31.38).

It’s been great seasons for Staples and particularly Norwalk/McMahon, which has flourished this year under first-year coach Passamano.

“I’m incredibly grateful to Norwalk High School and especially coach (former coach and NHS?AD Doug) Marchetti for giving me the opportunity to coach this team and believing in me,” Passamano said.

Reprinted from The Hour

Staples Wreckers Place 8th at State Open

March 21, 2015 by ·  


The six Wreckers swimmers from Staples High School today placed eighth at the state open swimming championships at the six-lane amphitheater pool at Yale University.

The team was led by senior Daniel Williams who was declared the co-champion in the 500-yard freestyle after an ultra-rare dead heat in high school swimming’s longest and most grueling event.

Williams trailed Karl Bishop from Cheshire who seemed to dominate the race with a comfortable lead until the final 100 yards, when Williams, trailing by two body lengths, started to surge.

The crowd at the arena grew loud as Williams caught Bishop about 10 yards from the finish and big cheers erupted when the scoreboard reported matching times of 4:35.61.

“it was a tough race for me,” said Williams. “I am really focused on YMCA Nationals which starts March 30th, and I am still training hard for that meet. It feels great to finish so strong.”

Williams also placed seventh in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:55.88.

Other Wreckers at the meet included North Woods, who placed fifth in the 100 breast stroke (59.59) and 14th in the 100 yard freestyle (48.62).

During the swim season, Woods also broke the Staples High School 100-meter breaststroke school record that had stood since 1986 with a time of 1:08.11.

Senior Max Wimer finished 12th in the 200 freestyle (1:46.65), senior Ethan Hunter finished 16th in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.07), junior Mark Schachter placed 23rd in the 100 butterfly (55.27), and junior Harrison Knapp finished 23rd in the 100 back stroke (57.57).

Reprinted from Westport Now

Staples Finishes 5th in LL Swimming

March 17, 2015 by ·  


By Steve Geoghegan

MIDDLETOWN – Sometimes it’s important to dig a little deeper.

One might overlook the Norwalk/McMahon co-op boys swim team’s ninth-place finish at the Class LL state meet on Tuesday at Wesleyan, but the squad achieved some great things in getting to that top 10 finish.

“This is as good as we’ve done in a decade here, at least,” said NHS/BM head coach Chris Passamano, whose team racked up 251 points. “Every goal we’ve set up this season we’ve knocked down. I’m happy, thrilled, and we broke five school records and set a few personal bests.”

Staples, meanwhile, had a great meet as well, finishing in fifth place with 417 points.

Head coach Frisk Driscoll said it was looking like his squad could fall anywhere from second to fifth after preliminaries.

“Unfortunately for us we came out on the bottom end of that but through no fault of our kids,” he said. “Our kids came out and swam their races. Sometimes you can’t control what’s going on in those other lanes.”

Greenwich won the meet for the 22nd time out of 23 years with 836 points.

Norwalk/McMahon couldn’t have started any better with three school records after the first three events.

The 200-yard medley relay team of Nico Roldan, Anthony Dell’Isola, Eddie Donovan and Joey Sepuca placed fifth overall with a time of 1:39.78. The Staples team of Daniel Williams, Ethan Hunter, Mark Schachter and North Woods took fourth in the event (1:39.78).

“I thought they were great,” Passamano said of his relay. “They’ve gotten better and better and have been on the verge of the school record all year. They swam OK at trials so they came out motivated to make up for that.”

Passamano said he was particularly happy for Sepuca, who missed out for qualifying for the sprints but now gets his name on the wall back at school.
In the 200 freestyle, Dell’Isola did just about everything right but ended up getting edged by Cheshire’s Karl Bishop, who won with a time of 1:43.34. Dell’Isola was one hundredth of a second behind (1:43.35).

Dell’Isola said he gave it all he had in the 200.

“I didn’t know it was .01 until after,” he said. “I don’t want to look back on all the small things I could’ve done but it was a good race.
Passamano said Dell’Isola did everything right in the race.

“It’s the best time he ever swam,” Passamano said. “I told him to remember this because he’ll be in the lane next to him (Bishop) at the (State) Open.”
Daniel Williams of Staples had a few fine performances on the night, starting with the 200 IM. He finished fourth in the event (1:56.31) with Norwalk/McMahon’s Donovan fifth but still setting a school record time (1:56.61).

Passamano said Donovan didn’t finish where he wanted to but he swam the best time he ever swam in the event.
Donovan also placed third in the 100 butterfly with a school-record time of 50.90. He was edged by runner-up Bryce Keblish of Fairfield Prep (49.43) and winner John Montesi of Greenwich (48.98).

“I did pretty well and swam a best time in both of my individual events,” Donovan said. “I also did a best time off my split in the 200 medley, my 50 fly split was the fastest I believe I had so far. I was satisfied with today but I wanted to be better than I was.”

That never-satisfied attitude is what makes Donovan such a great swimmer, Passamano said.

The 500 free pitted Bishop, Dell’Isola and Williams against each other. Bishop emerged victorious in the grueling event, coming close to a state record (4:33.79) while Williams was second (4:38.81) and Dell’Isola took third but still set the school record (4:39.24).

“I’m preparing more for the Open meet so I think I’m in a good spot,” Williams said. “I think I can give Karl a good race on Saturday (at the Open).”

Said Driscoll of Williams, “Danny had a nice meet. His 200 IM was very nice and his 500 free was also very solid. He was pleased with those but he wants to be even better at the Open.”

Staples’ 200 free relay of Jacob Nadel, Ethan Hunter, Mark Schachter and Maximilian Wimer ended up in seventh (1:31.92). Driscoll had high praise for Schachter, who stepped up in the 50 free and 100 fly.

It was an All-FCIAC top three in the 100 breaststroke with North Woods placing third in the event for the Wreckers with a time of 59.20. Iain Edmundson of Greenwich won with a state record time of 57.05 while Ridgefield’s outstanding freshman Andrew Bornstein was runner-up (58.86).

Ethan Hunter of Staples took eighth in the 100 breast (1:02.22).

Rounding out the scoring for the locals in the 400 freestyle relay was the Staples team of Williams, Wimer, Harrison Knapp and Woods placing fourth (3:16.57) and Norwalk/McMahon’s Donovan, Kyle Lumsden, Sepuca and Dell’Isola finishing in eighth place (3:20.44).

It’s already been a tremendous season for Norwalk/McMahon. Passamano said after every stage of the season his swimmers have improved and he’d like to see more positive results at the State Open.

“I couldn’t be happier with our performance,” he said. “From where we were the last few years to now, the program is headed in the right direction.

Reprinted from The Hour

Woods Swims Past 29-Year-Old Record

March 10, 2015 by ·  


By Aileen Coyne

North Woods’ ’15 senior day won’t be easily forgotten, especially now that it will be engraved on the record board. On Friday, February 13, Woods broke the 29-year-old 100-meter breaststroke record by just one hundredth of a second.

As the meet against New Canaan was the Wreckers’ last home meet of the season, it was Woods’ last chance to break the record that he had set his sights on all season.

“When I missed it by .14 in our second to last home meet, I knew I had to buckle down if I wanted to break it,” Woods said. “That meet put some doubt in my mind, but I knew I had to silence that doubt if I was going to set the record.”

Woods, who signed an NLI to swim at Loyola next year, trains with Staples in the winter as well as the Westport Water Rats year round.

The goal of breaking the record had been taunting Woods all season and is a clear result of his hard work.

“North has a phenomenal work ethic,” Coach Frisk Driscoll said. “Regardless of how he is feeling on any given day, you know he is going to put everything he has into the pool.”

After being unable to hold his speed the week before when he just missed the record, Woods focused on staying strong throughout the second half of the race while still taking the first 50 meters out fast.

“All the pain and fatigue of the race just disappeared,” Woods said referring to when he saw his time. “I saw my family and teammates all watching and it made all the training I’ve done worth it.”

The Staples team is in the midst of their championship season, with their next meet being LL Trials on March 14.

Reprinted from Inklings

Wreckers Swim to 4th Place at FCIACs

February 27, 2015 by ·  


The Staples Wreckers Swim Team placed fourth overall at the FCIAC Championship Thursday night at Greenwich High School.

Greenwich took the overall team title for the 44th time in the past 45 years. Despite the dominance of the Greenwich team, there were multiple strong performances by the Wreckers’ swimmers.

Team co-captain Daniel Williams dominated the field in the 500-yard freestyle winning by over seven seconds in a time of 4:37.29.

Joining Williams on the podium for the 500 race were brothers Sebastian and Nico Ortega who finished fourth (4:51.68) and sixth (4:57.79), respectively. Williams also picked up a second place finish in the 200 IM (1:55.48).

Co-captain North Woods swam a very fast 100-yard freestyle ,taking second place in a time of 48.36. Woods also finished third in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 58.86. Freshman Dash Hunter placed 10th in the breaststroke with a time of 1:03.4.

Other notable performances included a fourth place finish in the 200-yard freestyle by Sebastian Ortega (1.47.21), a sixth place finish in the 100-yard butterfly by Mark Schacter, an eighth place finish by Ethan Hunter in the 50-yard freestyle, and a tenth place finish in the 100-yard backstroke by Harrison Knapp.

Co-captian Max Wimer placed seventh in the 200-yard freestyle (1:48.93) and eighth in the 100 butterfly (56.29).

The teams relays also had great performances, taking second in the 400 freestyle relay, and third in the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays.

The boys next compete at the LL Championship meet on March 17.

Reprinted from Westport Now

Staples Finishes Fourth at FCIACs

February 27, 2015 by ·  


By Bob Birge
Hour Correspondent

GREENWICH — By placing sixth in Thursday’s FCIAC championship, the Norwalk-McMahon boys swimming team achieved its goal of improving last year’s seventh-place finish.

However, the best news of the night for the program came at the conclusion of the meet when first-year coach Chris Passamano was named the FCIAC coach of the year, an announcement that caught him off guard.

Passamano led Norwalk-McMahon to a 7-5 record in dual meets this season, its first winning record in 13 years.
“I’m blown away,” he said. “To have that kind of respect from my peers, for them to think of me that way in my first year as a coach, I’m speechless.”

Anthony Dell’Isola and Eddie Donovan led the way with a pair of top-three finishes for Norwalk-McMahon, which amassed 171 points.
“It’s very impressive, one of the best we’ve definitely seen over the course of our team’s history,” said Donovan, referring to his four years at Norwalk.

Donovan thought Passamano was deserving of the coach of the year honor.

“I’m sure he really enjoyed that, so did all of us,” Donovan said.

Greenwich continued its astonishing dynasty by winning the FCIAC title for the 44th time in the last 45 years as the Cardinals garnered 489 points, nearly 200 more than runner-up Darien (306), while breaking two meet records.

Ridgefield (293) edged Staples (290) for third while New Canaan (226) completed the top five. Wilton was sixth with 145 points.

Dell’Isola (1:44.70) won the 200 freestyle title and finished second in the 500 freestyle (4:44.72) behind Staples’ Daniel Williams.

Donovan set school records in the 200 IM (1:57.90) and 100 butterfly (51.88), finished third and second, respectively, in those two events.
“It’s about time I did that,” Donovan said. “I wanted to break (those records) earlier in my swimming career.”

With the graduation of Jonathan Blansfield, who is now at Northwestern, Dell’Isola was the favorite in the 200 freestyle and won in a time of 1:44.70.

Dell’Isola defeated runner-up Kieran Smith of Ridgefield (1:45.68) by nearly a second.

Williams dominated in the 500 freestyle as his winning time of 4:37.29 was more than seven seconds better than Dell’Isola.

The Wreckers had three swimmers in the top six in the event as Sebastian Ortega was fourth (4:51.68) and Nico Ortega sixth (4:57.79).

“That was a great race,” said Staples’ coach Frisk Driscoll, who was happy with the fourth-place finish. “I know Staples has a long tradition of being able to really do some work in the 500 and tonight was no different.

“Not just Daniel, but we had three guys on the podium. That was awesome.”

Williams also finished second in the 200 IM (1:55.48) while Christopher Woods was second in the 100 freestyle (48.36) and third in the 100 breaststroke (58.86).

Other highlights for Norwalk were Nicholas Roldan’s fifth-place finish in the 100 backstroke (56.45) and Kyle Lumsden’s seventh-place (57.23) in the same event.

Norwalk had runners in the finals of seven of the 11 events.

“I’m thrilled with the performance,” Passamano said. “We did everything we wanted to. We wanted to finish better than we did last year. We beat teams we wanted to beat. I had guys swim amazing times today.”

Derek Benison turned in Wilton’s best performance of the night with a fourth in the 50 freestyle (22.49).

The FCIAC swimmers now prepare for the class meets set for March 17 and 18 and Wesleyan University.

Reprinted from The Hour

Greenwich Retains First; Staples Was Fourth

February 26, 2015 by ·  


By Rich DePreta

GREENWICH — It takes an army to build a tradition.

The Greenwich High School boys swim team brought more than enough troops Thursday night to win its 44th FCIAC Boys Swim Championship team title in the last 45 years.

“It is definitely the swimmers that make the dynasty,” said Greenwich veteran coach Terry Lowe. “The kids put together the best performance I could have hoped for.”

Greenwich finished the proceedings with 489 points to easily outdistance runnerup Darien (306 points), Ridgefield (293) and Staples (290).

Greenwich took first place in eight of the 12 events.

In the 200 freestyle, Norwalk senior Anthony Dell’Isola was champion in 1:44.70 just ahead of Ridgefield freshman Kieran Smith 1:45.68.

Darien’s Duke-bound senior Lee Christensen captured Wednesday’s diving crown on his final dive to amass 522.45 points, edging Greenwich’s Andrew Bologna (519.75). Christensen and Westhill’s Rachel Burston (the FCIAC girls diving champ) received special league awards for their efforts.

In the 100 free, Darien’s Patrick Brannigan outtouched two opponents to win in 48.29. Christopher Woods of Staples (48.36) was second with Greenwich’s Ed Moss (48.58) in third.

In the grueling 500 free, Staples senior Daniel Williams won by a pool length in 4:37.29.

In the 200 IM, GHS senior Thomas Dillinger won by two body lengths in 1:52.27 — a time worthy of All-American consideration.

Dillinger also captured the 100 breaststroke in an FCIAC meet record time of 55.89. The old mark was 56.63 set in 2009 by New Canaan’s Christian Higgins. Dillinger’s time was also an automatic All-American time. Dillinger’s impressive efforts earned him Most Valuable Swimmer honors.

Greenwich dominated in the 50 free as Moss, a senior, won in 21.72 ahead of teammate Wyatt Semenuk (21.91).

Jack Montesi was also a double champion for Greenwich. He captured the 100 butterfly in 50.54. And Montesi took the 100 backstroke in 51.74.

After eight events, it was clear that the GHS winning tradition would be intact as the Cardinals had 345 points, well ahead of Darien (210), Staples (201) and Ridgefield (177).

Greenwich divers got the Cards off to a good start Wednesday night. Andrew Bologna was second (519.75 points), Justin Sodokoff was 3rd (484.65 points) and Devon Satir was fifth (448.25).

In the 400 free relay, the foursome of Montesi, Nicholas Hyden, Moss and Dillinger were victorious by half a pool length in 3:12.19 for Greenwich.

In the 200 free relay, the GHS quartet of Dillinger, Hyden, Semenuk and Moss rolled to victory in 1:25.19 — an FCIAC record and an All-American consideration time. The old FCIAC meet record was 1:26.74 set by New Canaan in 2009.

“This is a great start to our postseason,” Lowe said.


FCIAC Championship

At Greenwich High pool

Team Scores: 1, Greenwich 489 points; 2, Darien 306; 3, Ridgefield 293; 4, Staples 290; 5, New Canaan 226; 6, Norwalk 171; 7, Wilton 145; 8, Westhill-Stamford 108; 9, Trumbull 71; 10, Ludlowe 63; 11, Warde 50; 12, St. Joseph 23.

Top 2 each event.

200 Yard Medley Relay: 1, Greenwich (Jack Montesi, Iain Edmundson, Wyatt Semenuk, N. Handali) 1:37.54; 2, Darien 1:39.92.

200 Free: 1, Anthony Dell’Isola (Norwalk) 1:44.70; 2, Kieran Smith (Ridgefield) 1:45.68.

200 IM: 1, Thomas Dillinger (Greenwich) 1:52.27; 2, Daniel Williams (Staples) 1:55.48.

50 Free: 1, Edward Moss (Greenwich) 21.72; 2, Wyatt Semenuk (Greenwich) 21.91.

100 Butterfly: 1, Jack Montesi (Greenwich) 50.54; 2, Eddie Donovan (Norwalk) 51.88.

100 Free: 1, Patrick Branningan (Darien) 48.29; 2, Christopher Woods (Staples) 48.36.

500 Free: 1, Daniel Williams (Staples) 4:37.29; 2, Anthony Dell’Isola (Norwalk) 4:44.72.

200 Free Relay: 1, Greenwich (Dillinger, Hyden, Semenuk, Moss) 1:25.19; 2, Ridgefield 1:31.07.

100 Backstroke: 1, Jack Montesi (Greenwich) 51.74; 2, Kevin Santaro (Ridgefield) 54.44.

100 Breaststroke: 1, Thomas Dillinger (Greenwich) 55.89; 2, Andrew Bornstein (Ridgefield) 58.19.

400 Free Relay: 1, Greenwich (Montesi, Hyden, Moss, Dillinger) 3:12.19; 2, Staples 3:17.31.

Diving: (Wednesday night): 1, Lee Christensen (Darien) 522.45 points; 2, Andrew Bologna (Greenwich) 519.75.

Reprinted from the Stamford Advocate

Woods Leads Staples Past Norwalk-McMahon

February 11, 2015 by ·  


By Bob Birge

WESTPORT — Since the start of the season, Staples’ senior swimmer North Woods has had his sights set on breaking the school’s record in the 100 breastroke that has stood for nearly 30 years.

Woods came close in Wednesday’s 121-64 victory over Norwalk as his winning time of 1:08.26 was just 0.14 seconds off the mark of 1:08.12 established by Billy Cameron in 1986.
“I’m going to be looking to top that board by the end of the season,” said Woods, pointing up at the list of schools records above the Wreckers’ pool.

Woods has been moving up the charts, climbing from fifth on the school’s all-time list in the event last season to fourth in the Wreckers’ previous meet against Fairfield Warde and now third.

Greg Carney holds the No. 2 spot with a time of 1:08.16 in 1988.

Woods’ last chance to break the record comes in the Wreckers’ final home meet on Friday against New Canaan at 4 p.m. Staples improved to 8-3 with Wednesday’s victory.

The FCIAC, Class LL and state open meets takes place in pools in which the distances are measured in yards, as opposed to Staples’ metered pool.

Anthony Dell’Isola and Eddie Donovan were double winners for Norwalk-McMahon, which dropped to 5-5 with meets remaining at Trumbull on Thursday, 4 p.m. at the Hillcrest Junior High School and home against Fairfield Warde next Wednesday.

Dell’Isola won the 200 freestyle (2:02.36) and 400 freestyle (4:13.10) while Donovan took the 200 IM (2:14.62) and 100 butterfly (59.89).

The two Norwalk-McMahon swimmers have dominated all season and impressed Staples coach Frisk Driscoll.

“They have some serious top-end guys,” Driscoll said. “I’ve been watching (Dell’Isola and Donovan) swim for four years, not just in high school but USA Swimming. They’re two tough kids, really hard workers, and you can see it every day in the races.”

While the Wreckers did not have any double winners in the individual events , the difference in the meet was their superior depth.

Staples’ Daniel Williams won the 100 backstroke (1:06.92) and finished second in the 400 freestyle behind Dell’Isola.

The Wreckers also were victorious in all three relays with the quartet of Williams, Ethan Hunter, Mark Schachter and Woods opening the meet with a win in the 200 medley relay (1:57.40).

They edged the Norwalk-McMahon team of Kyle Lumsden, Dell’Isola, Donovan and Joey Sepuca by 0.14 seconds in the closest race of the meet.

“This is in line with what we expected,” Norwalk-McMahon coach Chris Passamano said. “They’re a fundamentally very sound team. They have numbers and they have divers.

“We’re looking for best times and we got some really good times today. I think we did pretty well in terms of our times and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

Staples also did well in the sprints, earning 21 points in the 50 and 100 freestyles.
Max Wimer (26.63) won the 50 freestyle and Simon Ginsberg touched first in the 100 freestyle (59.17).

“We definitely have an advantage when we know every meet we can fill up a full lineup,” Driscoll said. “It’s not where we are going to put people, but who’s going to get an opportunity to race today, which brings a different dynamic to our team.”

Norwalk-McMahon was at a disadvantage due to its lack of divers, which meant it surrendered 13 points even before the meet started.

“When we don’t have divers, it kills us, and it has all season,” said Passamano, who will attempt to recruit some potential divers in the summer. “We have to somehow figure out a way to cultivate some diving at Norwalk.”

Still, Norwalk-McMahon can still achieve one if its preseason goals of a winning season — 7-5 — by winning the final two meets.

After that, Norwalk-McMahon will be looking to improve last year’s showing in the FCIAC (seventh) and Class LL (13th) meets.

“Our goal from the outset was to improve on everything from last season,” said Passamano, who took over a team that just two dual meets a year ago. “We have to finish the season strong.”

Reprinted from The Hour

Wreckers Swimming Is ‘Into the Woods’

January 29, 2015 by ·  

By George Albano

Long before they became swimmers at Staples High School–and very good swimmers at that–Willow Woods and her brother North Woods had already made a name for themselves.

After all, it’s pretty hard to forget the names Willow and North. And from the same Westport family, no less.

But forenames aside, there are other reasons why these siblings stand out in a crowd. Especially when they’re around swimming pools.

North Woods is a senior tri-captain on this year’s Staples boys swim team, which is gearing up for another strong postseason run. As a junior, he played a vital role in the Wreckers’ 10-1 season and runner-up finish in the FCIAC as he took third in the 100 breaststroke, fourth in the 200 IM, and helped the medley relay team to a third-place finish.

Then at the Class LL state meet, he finished third again in the breaststroke, 10th in the IM, and helped a pair of relay teams to top-five finishes. He also qualified for the State Open in all four events, highlighted by an eighth-place finish in the breaststroke.

Meanwhile, his younger sister Willow arrived on campus this past fall as a freshman and made an immediate impact on the Staples girls swim team. Like her brother, she earned All-FCIAC honors while qualifying for the LL state meet in four events, medaling in the breaststroke and helping the 400 and 200 free relays to second- and third-place finishes, respectively.

What’s more, she helped the Lady Wreckers finish state runner-up in the team standings, and qualified for the State Open in all four of her events.

So, you see, neither North nor Willow Woods have to worry about any kind of identity problem when it comes to their high school sports careers.

That said, having unique first names doesn’t hurt. In North’s case, however, it was having a unique middle name.

“My first name is actually Christopher,” he pointed out. “I was named after my father and North is my middle name. But to make it easier on my mom, my parents decided to call me by my middle name. It was a little less confusing.”

“We didn’t want two Christophers in the house,” his mother, Kristen Woods, said with a laugh.

“So because my dad’s name is Chris, I’ve always been called North,” the senior swimmer said. “It stuck and I’ve always gone by North.”

Okay, that part is understandable. But how did Kristen and Chris Woods come up with North for a middle name when their son was born in 1997?

“My parents are big sailors,” North explained, “and North Sails is a big name in sailing.”

A “big name” is putting it mildly. North Sails is the world leader in sail making.

“They make most of the sails for big racing boats,” North said. “So my name has a connection to that.

But the North Sails brand name was only a part of the reason for his name. There was actually a bigger reason.

“It really comes from the compass rose,” Kristen Woods said, referring to the symbol found on a compass or a map that indicates direction. “My husband sailed and trained all over the world and he always talked about the compass rose.”

In particular, the “North” direction had special meaning to Chris Woods.

“The true north is what your internal compass is,” he said. “It’s what your internal direction is in the community as a member of society. It’s where you are destined to go and what your principles are.

“Sailors always sail to the North Star,” the former captain of the New York Yacht Club sailing team added. “But you also have to have a guide system in life, a direction in life so you can find your true North and what the right thing to do is. As a parent you want your children to develop a value system and develop the right values.”

It was with that in mind that his parents came up with a middle name.

“We brainstormed for a name and thought North would be perfect,” Kristen Woods said.

“It was more for the North direction on a compass rose than the North Sails brand,” Chris Woods noted.
Then about three years after North was born, his sister came along.

“We wanted some sort of botanical name for her,” Kristen recalled. “My aunt threw out the name Willow and we fell in love with it. Her middle name was Elizabeth if she wanted to go with a normal name as she got older.”

As it turns out, Willow Elizabeth Woods went by both names.

“I used to tell people my real name was Elizabeth,” she said. “I didn’t like Willow at first. But everybody told me how unique and pretty it was so I kind of embraced it after a while.

“Then when I went into high school I wanted to switch back and I told people to call me Elizabeth. But that didn’t work well. Too many people knew me as Willow in middle school and kept calling me that.”

Her brother, meanwhile, stayed with one name. Or least tried to.

“Usually on the first day of school every year teachers would call me Christopher,” he said. “But everyone else was calling me North and all my teachers picked up on it and started calling me that, too. It followed me from class to class.”

Not everyone picked up on it right away, though.

“When we were looking at colleges and talking to coaches, it was very confusing,” Kristen said. “His applications would say Christopher, but I would call him North and they’d look at me.”

North did go with ‘Christopher’ when he signed his letter of internet to swim at Division I Loyola University in Maryland.

“By the time the recruiting process escalated, all the coaches were calling him North,” his mother said. “He’s always been North.”
“It’s a great name,” Chris Woods agreed. “So is Willow.”

He liked both names so much, in fact, he has a tattoo of a compass rose on one hip and a tattoo of a willow on the other.
“Both names sound good with their last name. too.”

Not just in Westport, either. For example, there are Willow Woods all over the country. There’s a town in Virginia called Willow Woods. A Willow Woods Park in California. A Willow Woods Golf Course in Ohio. Willow Woods Apartments in Alaska (I kid you not). There’s even Willow Woods condos in Norwalk.

And, get this. There’s a Willow Woods Day Care School located in the Westport Presbyterian Church in Kansas City.

The same holds true with North Woods. There’s a North Woods Inn in California. The Northwoods Outlet for hunting and fishing gear in Michigan. Northwoods Outfitters in Maine which specializes in outdoor clothing.

And, lest we forget, Staples High School is on North Avenue and the street on North Avenue right before you turn into Staples is Willow Walk Road. Just thought I’d throw those in as well.

Of course, there’s also the Great North Woods, a 26-million acre piece of real estate spreading across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

“We’re also mountaineers,” Chris Woods said. “So we also like the North Woods.”

But first and foremost, North and Willow Woods are swimmers. And very good swimmers at that.

“My parents doused me in the pool when I was only six-months old,” North said. “I started swimming when I was around two years-old.”
“I was around five years-old when I started,” Willow added.

The two of them have been swimming ever since … and making quite a name for themselves in more ways than one.

Reprinted from The Hour

Greenwich Swims Past Staples

January 16, 2015 by ·  


By Ryan Lacey

By Saturday afternoon, the Greenwich boys swim team will have taken on one of the top teams in the FCIAC and one of the top programs in the state.

As the team to beat year in and year out, it’s a challenge coach Terry Lowe and his team are ready to embrace.

Greenwich maintained its status as the team to beat in the FCIAC, defeating staples 129-57 at home on Friday afternoon. Double winners for the Cardinals were Thomas Dillinger (200 IM and 100 freestyle) and Jack Montesi (100 butterfly and 100 backstroke), while Daniel Williams (500 freestyle) won the lone event for Staples.

With a showdown with Fairfield Prep on Saturday, the Cardinals easily deposed of their FCIAC rivals. Chasing its 44th FCIAC title in the last 45 seasons, Greenwich won 11 of 12 events against the team that finished second in the conference last year.

“These are two meets that we pointed to and said let’s do a good job,” Greenwich coach Terry Lowe said. “So we can know where we are now and get back to work.”

The Cardinals began the meet with an impressive time in the 200 medley relay, as the quartet of Jack Montesi, Iain Edmundson, Wyatt Semenuk and Nick Handali crossed the line first in 1:38.36.

“It was a good meet,” Staples coach Frisk Driscoll said. “It’s definitely a learning experience and a gut check going against the best team in the state hands down. It was a good opportunity to swim at the pool that we will be swimming at FCIACs.”

Montesi impressed in both events, including winning the 100 backstroke (54.98) by close to seven seconds. Greenwich swept all three relays with Dillinger and Montesi each swimming a leg in two.

A bright spot for the Wreckers was the 500 freestyle. In addition to Williams winning by more than 11 seconds, teammate Nic Ortega (5:04.91) beat out Greenwich’s Ray Warner (5:05.19) for second.

“That was a big swim for (Ortega),” Driscoll said. “(Williams) is one of the better 500 swimmers in the state so he was out there swimming his own race, but Nico dropped nine seconds and that’s huge.”

Greenwich also swept the diving, with Andrew Bologna and Justin Sodokoff eclipsing the 280 point barrier.

“It was incredible to see both our divers go in the 280s, and Sergei Shaw continuing to improve with his best score of 214,” Lowe said.

Greenwich 129, Staples 57 (at Greenwich): Relays: 200 medley relay: Greenwich (Jack Montesi, Iain Edmundson, Wyatt Semenuk, Nick Handali) 1:38.36; 200 freestyle relay: Greenwich (Nick Handali, Nick Hydew, Wyatt Semenuk, Thomas Dillinger) 1:29.74; 400 freestyle relay: Greenwich (Ray Warner, Nick Handali, Jack Montesi, Thomas Dillinger) 3:26.03. Individual events: 200 freestyle: Ray Warner (G) 1:50.27; 200 IM: Thomas Dillinger (G) 152.60; 50 freestyle: Ed Moss (G) 21.40; 100 butterfly: Jack Montesi (G) 53.76; 100 freestyle: Thomas Dillinger (G) 47.09; 500 freestyle: Daniel Williams (S) 4:53.89; 100 backstroke: Jack Montesi (G) 54.98; 100 breaststroke: Iain Edmundson (G) 1:01.89. Records: Staples 4-1, Greenwich 5-0.

Reprinted from the Westport News

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